One of the books that’s stuck with me since I read it in in 2011 is Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project. It’s one of those pseudo self-help books, focusing on one woman’s journey to feel happier. Ideas she posited in the book seem to come back to me at random times – recently while doing a Whole 30 – and often seem to offer some insight into my own behavior.
Early in the book, Rubin shares her 12 Commandments, the principles that helped guide her through her happiness project and her life. The one I’m thinking about this week, specifically in relation to my reading life, is her commandment to “Spend Out” – to stop hoarding, trust in abundance, and put things out into the world instead of saving them for a rainy day or a special occasion.
Going through my bookshelves as part of a massive book purge reminded me of how many wonderful books I’ve invested in… and made me realize I’ve somehow become unwilling to pick up the books I’m most excited about reading because I spend too much time thinking, instead, about when the perfect time to read the book will be.
I think a lot about books that would be great at the lake or at the gym, books that would be excellent during the Readathon or while on a long plane ride. I save books that I know will be great for times when I think will need to read a great book… ignoring the fact that there will always be more great books to read.
This doesn’t mean I end up reading bad books or disappointing books. So far, 2015 has been one of my most satisfying reading years since I started blogging. But it does mean that I’ve been letting my reading fall towards the books of the moment and letting other books I know will wonderful languish unread.
This has been the fate of so many books. Culling my bookshelves reminded me that I’ve been holding on to Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell, Embassytown by China Miéville, Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood, My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante, This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett and so many others, just waiting for a “perfect moment.” And when those inevitable moments I’ve been saving a book for do arrive, I often choose something else, still afraid of spending out this abundance I’ve invested in.
I’m still trying to think about what goals or plans I want to put in motion for my birthday next month. Turning 29 seems like one of those big ones, like the last peak of a climb on the way to turning 30. But I do know I want to make the year one of spending out, of living abundantly and making sure to love and use and appreciate and enjoy all of the objects around me. For purposes of this blog, I want to “Read Out,” to finish books I know I’ll love to make more space for the great books I know are still to come.